Low-Fat, High-Carb Diets Reverse Insulin Resistance

Dr. George Lund­berg, the for­mer edi­tor-in-chief of JAMA, gra­cious­ly invit­ed me to coau­thor this edi­to­r­i­al on how starchy, low-fat diets reverse insulin resis­tance!


Hel­lo and wel­come. I’m Dr. George Lund­berg, speak­ing for myself and for my co-author Lau­rie Endi­cott Thomas, and this is At Large at Med­Page Today.

Physi­cians and oth­er health­care pro­fes­sion­als often tell their patients with type 2 dia­betes to avoid eat­ing too much starch and sug­ar in order to keep their blood sug­ar from going too high. But if the patients fol­low that advice, they’ll end up eat­ing more fat and more pro­tein, which could increase their risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar and renal com­pli­ca­tions. Worse yet, a high fat intake may actu­al­ly keep the patients dia­bet­ic.

It was clear by the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry that diets that include a lot of fat result in impaired glu­cose tol­er­ance where­as starchy, low-fat diets restore the abil­i­ty to tol­er­ate glu­cose. Thus, the low-car­bo­hy­drate diet that many patients with type 2 dia­betes are told to eat could actu­al­ly be con­tribut­ing to their dia­betes.

A ran­dom­ized clin­i­cal tri­al pub­lished in 2006 showed that a low-fat diet with car­bo­hy­drates based entire­ly on unre­fined plant foods pro­vid­ing 75% of calo­ries out­per­formed the Amer­i­can Dia­betes Association’s stan­dard dietary rec­om­men­da­tions for peo­ple with type 2 dia­betes. The sub­jects assigned to the high-car­bo­hy­drate diet lost more weight, had bet­ter lab­o­ra­to­ry val­ues (includ­ing low­er HbA1c and LDL cho­les­terol), and were more like­ly to be able to dis­con­tin­ue tak­ing at least one of their pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tions.
They were also more like­ly to stick to their diet. Although their food choic­es were restrict­ed (they could eat noth­ing but veg­eta­bles, fruits, whole grains, and legumes), they could eat as much as they want­ed. They didn’t have to count or weigh any­thing, and they nev­er had to go hun­gry.

A shift to a low-fat diet based on unre­fined starch­es and veg­eta­bles is a promis­ing approach for revers­ing type 2 dia­betes and has also been ben­e­fi­cial in cas­es of type 1 dia­betes.
Not only does this kind of diet pro­mote weight loss, it helps to reverse insulin resis­tance even before the indi­vid­ual has lost much weight. It also has ben­e­fi­cial effects on blood pres­sure, cho­les­terol lev­els, and oth­er prob­lems that can con­tribute to the com­pli­ca­tions of dia­betes.

Pon­der these points. Maybe you should change your prac­tice.

Behind Barbed Wire_PrintUpdate: I even­tu­al­ly expand­ed this mes­sage into a book, Thin Dia­betes, Fat Dia­betes: Pre­vent Type 1, Cure Type 2. This book explains how the human body han­dles sug­ar, and how insulin works. It explains why a low-fat, high-car­bo­hy­drate, pure­ly plant-based diet revers­es type 2 dia­betes, improves the health of peo­ple with type 1 dia­betes, and may actu­al­ly pre­vent most cas­es of type 1 dia­betes.

2 thoughts on “Low-Fat, High-Carb Diets Reverse Insulin Resistance”

  1. Go Google low carb high fat goril­la. The ener­gy intake of Goril­las and oth­er her­bi­vores due to fer­men­ta­tion or oth­er pro­cess­ing of fiber/plants leads to most of the ener­gy being from Short chain fat­ty acids. If humans eat the same way we end up with most­ly car­bo­hy­drates instead.

    Doesn’t real­ly make much sense does it.

  2. Fer­men­ta­tion of fiber in the human large intes­tine does pro­duce short-chain fat­ty acids, such as butyric acid. Butyric acid is an impor­tant ener­gy source for the colonic mucos­al cells. http://wheredogorillasgettheirprotein.blogspot.com/2009/11/salad-deficiency-causes-ulcerative.html
    For the short-chain fat­ty acids released by the fer­men­ta­tion of fiber to be a sig­nif­i­cant part of your ener­gy intake, you’d have to eat a lot of fiber.

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